Hallucinogens, also known as psychedelics, are drugs that alter the user’s perception, thoughts and feelings leading to a significant distortion of their reality. Hallucinogens can be found in some plants and mushrooms or be synthesized in a lab. Although the specific mechanics of how hallucinogens work remains unclear, research suggests that their effect can be attributed to the disruption of communication between neurotransmitter systems in the brain and the spinal cord.
The history of hallucinogenic drug use goes back centuries. Originally used by indigenous people worldwide for medical purposes and religious and supernatural rituals, the drug’s popularity exploded in the 1950s and 60s, when they were promoted for their therapeutic, mind and consciousness-expanding effects. An opinion that was soon discredited after numerous “bad trips” were reported.
Hallucinogens however are not considered an addictive substance. They can cause serious and even dangerous side effects, but they’re not physically habit-forming. Their addictive quality stems more from their psychological effects. The euphoria, sense of detachment, and altered state of reality that these drugs create can lead to dependency.
The following is a list of the most commonly used hallucinogens; their street names; how they’re administered; and their short and long-term health effects.
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What is LSD? LSD is a combination of lysergic acid, a natural substance derived ergot fungus which grows on certain grains, and the synthetic chemical diethylamide. LSD is sold illegally on the streets as a tablet, a capsule, a gelatin square, or as a small square of colourful blotter paper.
Street Names: acid, tabs, hits, blotter, doses, dots, microdots, trips, window pane, pane, sugar cubes, cubes, yellow sunshine, loony toons, Superman
Short Term Health Effects of LSD Use: increased blood pressure and heart rate, elevated body temperature, loss of appetite, dizziness, distorted vision, impaired judgement, dry mouth, excessive sweating, chills, insomnia, tremors, distorted sense of time and reality, sense of detachment, euphoria, spiritual awakening, mood swings, anxiety, aggressive behavior, delusions, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.
Long-Term Health Effects from LSD Abuse: flashbacks, persistent psychosis, and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD)
LSD is not considered a physically addictive drug; however, it can create a psychological dependency in users as the pleasure effects of the drug can be habit-forming.
What is Mescaline? Mescaline is a hallucinogenic ingredient found in peyote, a small spineless cactus grown in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The top of the cactus or the crown, consists of circular-shaped buttons that are cut off, dried and then chewed, grinded into powder, or soaked in water to produce a psychoactive liquid.
Street Names: mesc, cactus, cactus head, buttons, cactus buttons, mescal, moon, big chief, topi
Administered: chewed, swallowed, smoked, brewed into a drink
Short Term Health Effects of Mescaline Use: increased blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness, headache, distorted vision, trouble sleeping, impaired judgement, sense of detachment, lack of coordination, numbness, muscle weakness, excessive sweating, diarrhea, tremors, nausea, vomiting, euphoria, distorted sense of time and reality, spiritual awakening, anxiety, mood swings, panic attacks, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Long-Term Health Effects from Mescaline Abuse: memory loss, flashbacks, persistent psychosis, and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
There is no evidence that mescaline causes a physical dependence, however some users may develop a psychological dependence to the drug’s hallucinogenic effects.
What is Psilocybin? Psilocybin is a naturally occurring compound found in more than 100 species of mushrooms grown in South America, Mexico and the United States. When ingested, the psilocybin converts to psilocin, a substance which distorts the perception of objects and stimuli in the user’s environment, producing a mind-altering effect.
Street Names: magic mushrooms, shrooms, boomers, mushies, caps, magics, buttons, little smoke
Administered: swallowed, swallowed, brewed into a drink
Short Term Health Effects of Psilocybin Use: increased blood pressure and heart rate, drowsiness, dizziness, distorted vision, impaired judgement, lack of coordination, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, confusion, sense of detachment, numbness, muscle weakness, chills, excessive sweating, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, tremors, distorted sense of time and reality, spiritual awakening, euphoria, mood swings, risky behaviour, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, paranoia, hallucinations, and potential poisoning and death from consuming the wrong type of mushroom.
Long-Term Health Effects from Psilocybin Abuse: flashbacks, persistent psychosis, and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
Psilocybin is not physically addictive, but some users may experience a psychological dependency to the mind-altering effects of magic mushrooms.
What is Ayahuasca and DMT? Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew made from an Amazonian plant containing dimethyltryptamine or DMT, a psychoactive compound; and the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which enhances the hallucinogenic effects of the dimethyltryptamine. DMT while naturally forming is most commonly synthesized for recreational use. While less potent than Ayahusaca, DMT’s effects are typically more dangerous and habit forming.
Street Names for DMT: DET, AMT, Dimitri, businessman’s trip, businessman’s special, fantasia, 45-minute psychosis
Administered: swallowed, snorted, smoked, snorted, brewed into a drink
Short Term Health Effects of Ayahuasca/DMT Use: increased blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness, headache, distorted vision, loss of coordination, agitation, confusion, chills, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea, distorted sense of time and reality, euphoria, spiritual awakening, aggressive behaviour, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, excessive vomiting, unconsciousness, seizures, respiratory arrest, and coma.
Long-Term Health Effects from Ayahuasca/DMT Abuse: flashbacks, persistent psychosis, and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).
While the use of Ayahuasca and DMT doesn’t produce a physical dependence, some users may experience psychological issues resulting from “bad trips”.